Mark Forseille clicked repainted (Southern Railway of BC - Railink) SRY GP9 112  (ex-MRL nee-NP) with SRY Slug 001 (ex-Howe Sound Pulp & Paper SW900 950001, exx-CN 7935, nee-CN 7235), at New Westminster, BC on February 6th.

Greg Shevchenko found ex-CN SW1200RS 1256 in New Westminster BC on February 13th being moved to Trapp Yard on the SRY.  This switcher is now JLCX 1256, and had been used Kitimat, BC.  Sold to JLCX after the pulp mill and plant closed, she is now leased through J&L Consulting.

On March 15th Keith Bowler snapped Mobile Grain SD40-3’s southbound at Kenaston, SK on the CN Craik Sub. lead by MGLX 6935, 3147 and  6901.

North Central Rail has bought some time in its efforts to buy a rail line in northwest Saskatchewan by asking the Canadian Transportation Agency to determine the net salvage value of CN’s Blaine Lake line. NCR has been negotiating with OmniTRAX for 320 kilometres of the Carlton Trail Railway that runs between Meadow Lake and Speers. It also wants to buy the Blaine Lake line that connects the CTR with the CN line at Denholm.  CN had set a deadline of Feb. 13 for the sale. But the Canadian Transportation Act says parties involved in commercial negotiations for the continued operation of a railway line have access to the net salvage value. The term refers to the market value of the rail line minus costs associated with its disposal.  NCR is seeking $12 million from the federal government. This money would be added to the $3 million the province gave NCR for rehabilitation in September 2011

(The Meadow Lake Progress)

Western Shortlines Vignettes

David Zulkoskey’s son Mark submitted these shots taken by his father.  OMLX SD9 1752 shares the HBRY deadline in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan with sister units, SD35E, and GP30 2508.  The second shot shows OMLX SD9 1750 in the same Prince Albert deadline.  These OmniTrax units arrived back in 2001, got moved around the roundhouse tracks, but never entered service. Likely arriving in poor condition, several OMLX units eventually ended up in the deadline.  It makes one long for the glory days of the 1990’s CTRW, when they rostered M420W, M420B, GP10, GP40-2LW, and GP38-3 locomotives.


Ontario Northland To Be Divested


At approximately 10:45 am EST on March 23rd, The Ontario Ministry of Northern Development and Mines announced through a teleconference and media releases that the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission will be divested. Below are the details in the news release...


Ontario has chosen to take a new approach to regional transportation in northeastern Ontario by winding down the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission (ONTC).

This decision will allow the government to protect investments in northerners’ health and education systems while balancing the budget by 2017-18.

Since 2003, the government has worked hard to make the ONTC viable by increasing funding by 274 per cent. 

However, demand for its services has stagnated. Also, the current subsidy on the Northlander train is $400 per passenger, and no longer affordable.

 Government funding has increased from $28 million annually in 2003-04 to $103 million this year.

 Ridership has remained stagnant at about 320,000 rides a year.

 Sales revenues have declined from $140 million in 2005 to just over $100 million this year.

 Private buses serve most of the same communities.
A transition board has been appointed to work with current Chairman Ted Hargreaves to begin the divestment of the commission. 

The board has been given a mandate to:

 Ensure the ongoing operation of the Polar Bear Express service

 Divest commercially valuable assets such as rail freight, rail refurbishment and Ontera telecommunications

 Begin the process of cancelling the Northlander train service that runs between Toronto and Cochrane – to be replaced with enhanced bus service

 Tender bus services for other operators to service existing bus routes

 Consolidate the ferry service between Moosonee and Moose Factory with other provincial ferry services.

There will be no immediate changes for ONTC services or employees.


“No government in recent memory has worked harder than ours to make the ONTC viable. We’ve made significant investments in the ONTC since 2003, but the organization is not on a sustainable financial path. We have a responsibility to find a new solution that both protects essential passenger services and ensures that northerners are getting full value for taxpayer money. Our priority is to invest in areas that matter most to northerners, such as health care, education, northern highways and the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund.”
— Rick Bartolucci, Minister of Northern Development and Mines

"Today we are provided with an opportunity to build a new transportation system for a new era. I am pleased to participate in a process that will result in a sustainable solution that has such great potential for new opportunities for northeastern Ontario."
— Ted Hargreaves, Chairman of the Board of ONTC


 Government funding to the ONTC has increased by 274 per cent over the last nine years from $28 million annually to $103 million this year.

 Since 2003–04, the government has invested $439 million in the ONTC to help it become viable and self sustaining.

 The government remains committed to ensuring that northern communities and industries benefit from a viable, efficient and sustainable transportation system. The Growth Plan for Northern Ontario features a “Multi-Modal Transportation Strategy,” which includes the development of an integrated air, rail, marine and road strategy.

One of the victims of Ontario Northland's divestiture announcement is Cochrane to Toronto Northlander service. Mike Robin caught the southbound 222 Northlander at Mile 72 of the Temagami Subdivision March 15th.

The months of February and March are primetime for Hockey Tournaments held throughout Northeastern Ontario. Some of these tournaments can become quite popular, such as The James Bay Memorial Cup which was held from March 1st to March 4th in Moosonee. Over the years, the tournament's popularity had risen so much, that a special train had to be dispatched in order to return participants south on the final day of the tournament, so as not to overload the following day's Polar Bear Express. 2012 is no different as Mike Robin catches Train 999 North "The James Bay Memorial Cup Special" prepping at Cochrane and shortly bound for Moosonee March 4th.

At Campbellville, Ontario on February 25th, Trevor Wiley clicked Ontario Southland Railway MLW’s OSR RS23 505 idling away on a frigid day beside OSR RS18u 180.

Tim Ball snapped OSR RS18u 181 and RS23 504 sitting on the south leg of the wye on the Guelph North Spur, waiting for the GEXR local to finish up on March 14th. 

On March 15th, Tim Ball snapped the latest addition to the OSR fleet, former Spruce Falls Pulp & Paper #109, is now OSRX RS23 506. The locomotive is expected to be only a parts source at this time. 

On March 16th, Tim Ball was in Guelph and managed to catch Goderich-Exeter trains 582 and 431. Before LLPX GP38-2 2236 performs the runaround move, 582's conductor is seen placing the SBU on the tail end.  This former CN Pointe St-Charles built caboose is used as the conductor’s riding platform as they work in Cambridge.   Shortly after GEXR 582 had departed for Kitchener, FEC SD40-2 709 and leased GSCX SD40-2 7369 arrived with train 431.   

In Windsor, Jay Butler snapped ETR GP9 108 heading eastbound toward the CP Windsor Yard, and passing over the Detroit /Windsor rail tunnel entrance on March 16th.


On March 25th James Lalande photographed freshly painted Roberval and Saguenay GP38-3 63 following her overhaul at NRE at Capreol, ON.  The locomotive is about to be sent to CN for Jonquière, QC, and then interchange to the R&S. The Roberval & Saguenay currently operates 160 kilometres of track in Quebec between the harbour at Port Alfred and the Alcan plants in Arvida, Grande Baie, Laterriere, and Alma, QC. It also serves major paper companies in the area.  The major commodities that it carries are bauxite from the port, alumina, coke, chemicals, paper, forest products and aluminum. 

Two of the Port of Montreal's diesels (as well as a slug) took part in the annual "Harbour Symphonies" on Sunday, March 4th 2012. This takes place in the Old Port of Montreal and involves ships in the harbour, diesels and nearby churches blowing their horns and ringing their bells. Michael Berry was present and took these images. The first photo shows The Port of Montreal's only RP20BD (#1001), along with slug #2007 (ex-GTW GP9 4434) . The second photo shows MP15AC #8405.

Daniel Leduc photographed the first of the 350 brand new Acelor-Mittal ore gondolas built by National Car in Hamilton, ON.  AMMC  4743  is shown tied down and secured on a flatbed for Daniel to truck to the Cartier Railway at Port Cartier, QC on March 9th. 

The Cartier Railway rosters a fleet of GE AC4400CW’s, over 900 ore cars, 300 other pieces of rolling stock.  The privately owned 260-mile (418-km) regional Cartier Railway is a wholly owned subsidiary of AcelorMittal.  Patrick DeLarue submitted these three great roster shots of  power used on the iron ore carrier:  AcelorMittal liveried  AC4400CW 301 in the corporations’ livery, Quebec Cartier Mining (QCM) AC4400CW 17 are seen at Lac Walker, Québec in 2010, and heavily modified QCM M636 87 is seen at Port Cartier, Québec back in 2003.   (Thanks to Patrick DeLarue, Rodney Bushway, and Daniel Luduc).


The New Brunswick Southern Railway will receive two more HELM  SD40-2’s: HLCX 6315 and HLCX 8144.  HLCX 6315 is ex-CP 5522, built in 1966. It was recently repainted to dark red and has a rebuilt engine. HLCX 8144 is ex-BN 8144, built in July 1980 wearing solid dark blue paint. There already have two other SD40-2, HLCX 6200 and 6318.

With authorization to be on MEI property, on March 13th Mark Mautner caught Helm Leasing SD40-2’s HLCX 6315 and 8144  about to depart from Metro East Industries in East St Louis, IL, and destined to New Brunswick Southern (NBSR).


Paul Donovan snapped this shot of Pan Am power now operating to St. John, NB on New Brunswick Southern/Eastern Maine Railway.  Pictured at Mattawamkeag, Maine on 2/24/12 are HLCX GP-38-3 913, newly arrived NBS SD40-2 6200 (sub-lettered HLCX), Guilford high hood GP40 380, and Pan Am GP40 381.   The two Pan Am units are NOT run- through power -- they are operating to/from Brownville Junction, ME to St. John, NB as leased units.  There has been talk of run-through power between Pan Am and New Brunswick Southern, but at the moment, Pan Am units turn at Mattawamkeag.  Pan Am between Mattawamkeag and Waterville is all 10 mph track, and in some points less.  WASJ and SJWA literally creep to and from Mattawamkeag. 

The New Brunswick Southern's leased HLCX GP38-3's, all still in former Union Pacific paint, and in March seemed to have disappeared off the mainline trains, replaced on alternating days by the Pan Am GP40's and the HLCX SD40-2's.  One HLCX unit was operating on the McAdam, NB to Baileyville, Maine branch in February.  This branch used to hand off to isolated Pan Am units at Calais, Maine, for the last few miles to the paper mill at Baileyville, but now NBS apparently works the train all the way to the mill.

© CRO April 2012